#mumlife

I’m starting to realise that there is definitely strength in numbers.

Being a mum can be incredibly lonely. You’ve created this new life and, probably about 90% of the time (in my case 99%) you have no idea what you’re doing. You have questions: is this normal? Am I doing this right? Should my baby really breastfeed this much? (The answer is yes, your baby will breastfeed until the point you think they will actually explode).

Your life has changed beyond anything you could have imagined, and you go from being able to basically do what you want to having to plan for a quick toddle round the garden.

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Katie Kirby probably puts it best in Hurrah for Gin:

…this was the point in my life where everything shifted from being all about me to it all being about somebody else. I couldn’t nip to the corner shop to buy a bag of pickled onion Monster Munch, grabbing my keys and purse on the way out; I had to relearn how to live, putting another person first. (Kirby, 53)

And she is completely and utterly right. Also, pickled onion Monster Munch are THE best crisps. Its just a fact.

It becomes so much harder, impossible even, to carry on as you were. You just can’t, and you need people to help you through the transition to mum. You’d think the whole pregnancy thing would prepare you but, despite the limitations on soft cheese and the discomfort, you can still pretty much enjoy a bit of free time. The concept of free time is null and void when the baby arrives.

This is why it is so important to find your group, people who just get it. I have a supportive husband, and I have family around. But I do think it is different for my husband, and yes my family are supportive, but they’ve also parented and they had their own way of doing it. Some things you maybe don’t want to discuss with your parents, I can think of a couple of things. Sometimes you want to say things and just not have the advice, sometimes you just need someone to say “Yeah, I completely get it.”

I was lucky enough quite early in my pregnancy to find that group. They’re strong and amazing women, who so deeply support each other. How fiercely these women will support each other is quite amazing.

I hesitated then, because I wanted to say how fiercely they will protect their own, and they do. But “their own” is any woman who needs and asks for their support. They welcome with open arms.

I believe that having these women behind me is the reason I didn’t give up on breastfeeding, and they’ve helped my confidence soar since having Pippin.

Without support networks, without a mama family motherhood can be unspeakably lonely and it really shouldn’t have to be.

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The Post Partum Body: Three Months In

I wrote a post (which you can read here) about my first views of my body after having a baby. My first reactions weren’t positive, but I did feel strong. Strong that I had gone through it all and was still standing.

The emotions from the birth are still pretty raw for me, and I have realised over the last few months that it has left me feeling soft, squishy and very vulnerable. And I am not just talking about my abdomen!

My first real challenge to my confidence is fast approaching. Since the birth I have lived in my giant panties, maternity leggings and oversized tops. Practical I have said: easy for whipping the breasts out and the high waists stop the rubbing on my wound.

But I have to acknowledge now that my maternity leggings are just starting to look a bit saggy, and although oversized tops are practical,the one’s I bought in late pregnancy are less ‘oversized’ and more ‘dressed in a bin bag’.

As I said, the test to my confidence is approaching. I am meeting a bunch of retro mummies and their bubbas at the Christmas Markets. This will be the first time I have dressed up since Pippin was born, and the first time I have dressed my new tummy. Scary stuff!

I am still swollen, although it has come down a lot I still have an overhang. I was measuring my waist today for a pair of jeans and my waist is still a whole four inches bigger than it was pre-pregnancy (and yet I weigh less. How does that work?). That made me sad.

What won’t be visible are my stretchmarks, which are fading quite well. My stomach still feels deflated, and there are patches where I have no feeling at all.

I need to not beat myself up, it is still early days in my recovery and to all the people who matter to me I am still me. Plus I really doubt that any of the mummies on Thurs will refuse to associate with me because of my mum tum.

Breastfeeding Frustrations

As a breast feeding mum I’ve found that there are a number of days you feel like you might want to chuck yourself out of the nearest window.

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I speak in jest of course. These are usually days when we’ve not left the house, we’ve been stuck to the bed all day, feeding. When you try and put the baby down, but they scream and generally its all a little bit pants.

It’s hard. You don’t want to be frustrated with your baby. It isn’t their fault. But having a baby can be frustrating. I’m finding it hard because it feels like I don’t have a life or job or anything really. Aside from caring for this little person.

That’s fairly typical I think. I don’t think there’s any shame in feeling like its difficult. There might be a bit of shame in having your second take away of the week and being annoyed with your husband because he got to go to work today.

It isn’t particularly helpful to get angry. But he has a break. I’ve been up since 3 o’clock this morning.

I love my little girl beyond anything. She’s my bestest little friend (even if my husband says I need to get out more if my best friend is a nine week old). At the same time though I am struggling with the changes.

I hope that I will still be able to work and I will still have my career, but currently I don’t. I can’t work with her here and I can’t express enough to leave her with someone, even if I had someone to leave her with!

If I’m honest I’m not sure I could leave her with someone else anyway, I would miss her and it doesn’t feel right.

Mum guilt I guess. But I still feel I need something else, a hobby or being with friends. The only interaction I have with adult people is to talk about the baby, or other babies or how horrendous birth is. It is hard not to compare with how little things have changed for my husband in that sense.

There are positives though. The closeness, and I can tell she gets a lot out of it emotionally. Plus I don’t have to wash bottles, and I hate washing up.

Is this normal? Is this just general new parent feels? Hormones?

Lord knows! I don’t know how long I will breast feed for. But what I definitely won’t miss is having to write posts using my sucky windows phone voice recognition.

 

The Post Partum Body: First Thoughts

A true story.

I had my first post-birth shower three days after my daughter was born. I walked into the ward bathroom whilst Pippin had daddy cuddles and braced myself.

Day one I had been too ill to get out of bed. Day two I was given a bed bath and helped into a chair, which got rid of the general mess of labour but hadn’t left much room for admiring my new figure. On day three I was walking into a poorly lit hospital bathroom with a wall-width mirror to be confronted with my post partum body for the first time.

I took off the hospital gown and looked at my new breasts, definitely sitting lower than they did before. I then followed the stretchmarks, tracing them down past my belly button. My post-Pippin tum felt different, softer than when my baby was kicking it, kind of saggy and without purpose. I couldn’t feel where my hand was touching, the skin still without sensation. Tucked into the mesh hospital knickers there was a definite overhang, the remains of my stretched out and swollen bump. Lifting that revealed a surgical dressing covering an incision and some blood, but lifting it felt weird, so I let it drop back.

I looked at my arms, with the canula marks and bruises from blood counts and cultures, and my thighs with the livid purple patches from the injections I have to give myself daily to prevent clotting.

Then I looked at my face; pale, swollen, with large, dark circles from being awake for nearly four days and the drugs I had been on. Topped by greasy hair.

In the last trimester of pregnancy people told me how much I suited it, how well I looked, and I felt beautiful. Looking in the mirror I felt like a deflated balloon and had I not been so exhausted I probably would have cried. Instead I washed up, dried up and pulled on a maternity dress that had been stretched over my stomach before, and now showed a gap where my baby had been.

I took a deep breath and walked out onto the ward. And I looked at my husband cuddling that baby. This wonderful child that I had loved and nurtured and held in my belly for months. My body had protected and grown our baby, even as I was showering it was healing and producing milk to feed our baby. My body went through pregnancy, an induction and fifteen hours of labour before being cut open to bring Pippin into the world. It had been stretched, poked, prodded, stabbed, cut and more, but I was still standing there. My body has done more than I ever could have expected of it.

Over time it will heal, I don’t know how much. I’m pretty certain it won’t ever look the same. I’m generally not an overly emotional person, but this has floored me in a way I can’t explain. There’s so much love here. Love between us and Pips, love between me and my husband. I genuinely think he believes I am beautiful: not still beautiful or beautiful despite my flaws, just beautiful. Frankly, looking and them together, I think it too.

This may be the hormones of course, but all our bodies are beautiful, amazing things: whoever you are and whatever you look like. Our bodies are amazing and I hope my little one will appreciate hers the way she should. Because she is amazing.